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Social workers in Bradford turned a blind eye when a 15-year-old grooming victim took part in an Islamic marriage to one of her abusers, a damning report revealed yesterday.
Despite the teenager not coming from a Muslim background, professionals meant to protect her then allowed the parents of her ‘husband’ to foster her after she became pregnant, it revealed.
One of her social workers allegedly even attended the wedding ceremony.
The terrified girl – referred to as ‘Anna’ – was left in a state of ‘domestic slavery’, too scared to leave the controlling relationship for fear she would be the victim of an honour killing, she told the report’s authors.
Details emerged yesterday in an independent report into the treatment of five abuse victims in the West Yorkshire city over the past two decades, which found that ‘children suffered abuse no child should have to experience’.
Alarmingly, it concluded that some youngsters in Bradford ‘remain unprotected’ from sex exploitation.
Social workers in Bradford turned a blind eye when a 15-year-old grooming victim took part in an Islamic marriage to one of her abusers, the damning report revealed yesterday (stock image)
The report – described by the body which commissioned it as making ‘difficult and, at times, distressing reading’ – began two years ago after nine men of Pakistani heritage were jailed for more than 57 years over the sexual exploitation of girls who had been in Bradford Council’s care.
Anna was placed in residential care as a teenager in 2002 but went missing more than 70 times, according to the report. She disclosed details of sexual abuse – including rapes – to a confidential support service for girls involved in prostitution, but nothing was passed on to police or social workers.
The following year, aged 15, she told the project worker she had converted to Islam and married her older Asian ‘boyfriend’ in a Sharia law ceremony.
The report said it appeared there had been ‘collusion’ with this by her social worker ‘who allegedly attended the ceremony and assessed that her marriage was likely to reduce the risks incurred when Anna was missing’.
Staggeringly, despite becoming pregnant, after a review Anna was formally placed with her abuser’s parents as a foster child, with the family even paid a fostering allowance.
The report began two years ago after nine men were jailed for more than 57 years over the sexual exploitation of girls who had been in Bradford Council’s care. Pictured: Basharat Khaliq, Saeed Akhtar, Naveed Akhtar, Parvaze Ahmed, Zeeshan Ali, Fahim Iqbal, Izar Hussain, Mohammed Usman and Kieran Harris who were all jailed at Bradford Crown Court in 2019
Anna told the report’s author: ‘At 14 years old I was engaged to be married, taking on the role of an Islamic wife fulfilling the needs of my husband and the extended family somewhat like a maid.
‘We had no similarities in race, religion or culture and I continued to be subject to domestic violence and was subject to a coercive, controlling sexual relationship with a known perpetrator. I was frightened to leave, in fear of an honour-based killing.’
The report concluded: ‘It is hard to understand how this decision can have been made and it resulted in Anna being entirely reliant on her abuser and his family.’
Instead of protecting her from harm, the placement left her ‘at greater risk and made her entirely dependent on them’, it added.
While there, she was subjected to ‘domestic slavery’ and ‘sexually abused and exploited by dozens of adult males’, it went on.
The Bradford Partnership – which includes Bradford Council children’s services and Bradford Police – has since apologised to young abuse victims who had been failed.
It said a large number of defendants have been found guilty and given substantial prison sentences. The joint statement said: ‘We believe that practice across all agencies is improving… but there is much more to do.’